Being a parent is never easy. It comes with handling tantrums, teaching lessons and learning to balance affection with discipline.
Parents, especially new ones, make mistakes they don't interpret as an actual mistake when it comes to disciplining their children. While you might not be abusing your kid, incorrectly disciplining your child is harmful to their growth and self-esteem. Discipline to correct a bad behavior, not create feelings of fear or anger.
Considering these suggestions could greatly improve your disciplinary methods and your child's behavior:
1. Yelling or screaming
This helps nothing and only scares your child. I understand that sometimes things completely frustrate you but remembering that is not your child's fault can help calm your anger. Correcting your child in a calm way is safer for you and your child.
2. Long explanations
Your child is not an adult and giving them a long explanation about why they can't do something doesn't correct their behavior. Keep your explanations short and to the point. You don't have to water down your reasoning, but don't go on and on about it. Having a simple explanation means you can both understand what was wrong and move on.
One huge mistake I see parents making all the time is bribing their child. Saying you will buy your child ice cream later if they stop crying is now is not solving any problems. Your child needs to respect you for the decisions you make and shouldn't get some reward just for being obedient.
4. Not following through
If you tell your child you're going to take something away as a punishment but then don't, what does your child learn? They learn they can get away with making mistakes without punishment. Hollow words don't discipline your child. Your child will eventually realize that you don't follow through with your word and test your limits more and more.
Let's say that your daughter's room is a mess and you tell she needs to clean it up and keep it clean but then two days later it turns back into a pigsty. Not saying a word is a huge mistake. Be consistent with your rules and your punishments. If you are not consistent, your child will end up confused and unsure of your expectations, leaving more room to make mistakes. It might be annoying to constantly remind your little one how to behave, but that is how they learn.
The 3-2-1 countdown does not work as well as you would hope. Yes, maybe your child does listen but really consider what that is teaching them. Obedience should never be delayed. I'm not saying they should be a servant to your rules but your children should learn to be obedient when you ask, not at the last second.
7. Not disciplining appropriately
If you have a toddler and he/she grabs your lipstick tube and draws on the wall and you also has a seven-year old who also does the same thing, the punishment should be different. Understand that your toddler does not know any better and your older child should know that drawing on a wall is wrong. Your seven-year old deserves a short time out while you need to give a small scold to your toddler so he/she knows better and won't do it again. Each age group has a different mental capacity to understand things and each should be disciplined accordingly.
8. Bring up the past
Just because your child made a mistake before does not mean that they will do the same thing again. Don't hold the past against them.
After a time out, showing your child the life lesson to be learned from their mistake is one of the smartest discipline decisions a parent can make. Pull your child to the side and sincerely explain what they did wrong and help them understand that you love them and want them to succeed.
10. Forgetting the love
Loving your child is what I believe to be the most important action to keep in mind when it comes to discipline. I remember being scolded by my mother and running to my room while crying, but five minutes later my mom would be there, comforting me while she explained the lesson she wanted me learn. I knew she loved me even when I was upset.
Even if you ignore all the suggestions listed above and follow just this one, the relationship you create with your child will be full of warmth and smiles. There is something about the love parents offer their children that can change everything.
Remember, how you discipline your child is between you and your partner. Always put the love you have for your kids first. How you correct a mistake can influence your relationship and their self-esteem for years to come. Choose to react calmly, with patience and with love to help your kids grow.
Liset was raised in Panama but now calls Florida home. She graduated in communications and is now working towards her master's degree. Liset is very outspoken and outgoing. She enjoys anything that involves the ocean, soccer or dancing.